Everyone who has had a friend knows that things are not always easy. Often times, as we grow and change, so do our relationships. In YA, we see a lot of examples of female friendships that are nuanced and complicated. These books show the ups and downs you can have with your friends instead of just the happy times. Friendship can be a tricky thing, but it’s all worth it in the end to have someone who is there for you. Check out some examples of complicated female friendships below!
13 Complicated Female Friendship Stories in YA Novels
1. Start Here by Trish Doller
Willa and Taylor spend the summer sailing from Ohio to Key West, following a list of clues left by their best friend, Finley, who recently passed away. Finley was always the glue that kept them all together now that she’s gone, Willa and Taylor’s friendship is hanging by a thread. They have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without their best friend—and decide if their own friendship is worth saving.
2. The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
Remy was happy once. She had her boyfriend Jack and her best friend Elise who understood her better than anyone else in the world. But now that happiness is gone. Jack is dead, shot through the chest, and it was Elise who pulled the trigger. As the police investigate, Remy does the same, sifting through her own memories, looking for a scrap of truth that could save the friendship that means everything to her. Told in alternating timelines, this twisted psychologically thriller explores the dark side of obsessive friendship.
3. Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard
Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with their music teacher, Mr. Cohn. Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. But as the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend, and herself.
4. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Sixteen-year-old Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew, Las Mal Criadas, in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throwdowns and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but Nala quickly grows weary of her questionable lifestyle. Now for a chance out of the Mega City, Nalah must battle crews and her own doubts but the closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone—she cares about.
5. The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret and Milla must help to save her as she becomes possessed by a demon. Yet, as Milla ventures on the journey, she realizes she’s changing, into the something everyone fears.
6. Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. Amelia has to figure out how this new responsibility affects her relationship with Cate—who wanted to be Head Girl just as much as she did.
7. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them. Though these three girls are all very different, they are united by a common cause.
8. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
When Penny leaves home to attend her first year of college, she becomes close with a boy named Sam. But it turns out he’s her new roommate’s shockingly young ex-uncle. Penny hides the fact that they’re talking but it’s only a matter of time before things blow up.
9. I’ll Never Tell by Abigail Haas
When Anna’s best friend Elise is found brutally murdered during their spring break trip to Aruba, the police look to Anna for answers. Even worse, accusations start flying that Anna might have somehow been involved in her death. Told in alternating past and present chapters, we learn about Anna and Elise’s complicated friendship.
10. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
Twinkle and Maddie have been best friends since they were little. But when Maddie becomes friends with the girls in the popular crowd, Twinkle feels left out. Maddie will only talk to her when they’re alone and refuses to take a stand when her new friends are mean to Twinkle. Twinkle quickly learns that it can be hard when your best friend gets new best friends.
11. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
When a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, she is forced to stay home for the summer and take a job walking dogs. She’s happy that she at least has her three best friends, but as secrets come to light, it becomes clear that no one can love or hurt you quite like your best friend.
12. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In Tally’s world, everyone has an operation that will turn them from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever.
13. See All The Stars by Kit Frick
Then: They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system. Now: Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.